A .NET CMS comparison and review

  • 1
  • August 2, 2011
Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw

Digital Director

Our .NET development team have worked with quite a few CMS platforms over the past years and it seems like a new one is released each month, but recently there seems to be a few that are stealing the limelight and offering that little bit more than the others.

In this article I’m going to take a look at some of the top CMS platforms we’re working with, and the pros and cons they all bring.

The CMS platforms I’ll be comparing are:

I’ll start off by taking a look at each of the platforms and producing a summary for each one focusing on its benefits and features.

EPiServer CMS

An excellent enterprise-level CMS that focuses on robustness and simplicity to manage page level content, supported by their tag line: “Power through Simplicity”. It contains access control levels, user management, and business workflows to ensure that content is added and maintained in a controlled manner through its ability to closely integrate with Active Directory.

Its simplistic WYSIWYG interfaces allow administration from users with varying levels of technical ability. EPiServer contains some nice functionality to create visitor groups, meaning that you can segment and group content to specifically target certain visitors; out-of-the-box this includes geo-IP, visited pages and visitor groups.

EPiServer has a suite of add-ons which allow it to create a more integrated platform:

  • Web Content Management (CMS)
  • E-Commerce
  • Social media and community (Relate+)
  • Campaign and e-mail marketing
  • Search-engine optimization (SEO)

Linking with Relate+, EPiServer can be configured to build a branded community; functionality includes forums, user groups and the ability for user-generated content to be implemented.

EPiServer can be extended to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce allowing it to have seamless integration with lead management, client account history and contacts.

Sitecore

Sitecore is an enterprise-level CMS platform that has been developed over the past 10 years to become one of the industry leading CMS platforms. The CMS uses an easy to use WYSIWYG editor to create and manage content, this also features a Windows-like interface which makes working with the CMS that little bit easier.

Sitecore offers its fully integrated “Customer Engagement Platform” which allows seamless integration between its major components.

  • Web Content Management (CMS)
  • Customer Engagement Platform
  • Digital Marketing System
  • E-Commerce services
  • Intranet Portal (Additional license required)
  • Foundry Multisite Solution (additional license required)

The out-of-the-box functionality allows for full tracking and reporting on user behaviour, as well as close integration with the sales and marketing platforms, meaning that engagement automation of communications with customers across all channels can help maximise efficiency of moving prospects through the sales funnel.

The digital marketing platform helps to create an understanding of campaigns and site performance and helps you gain the insight needed to improve conversion rates and generate more qualified leads through web, email, mobile and social channels.

Sitefinity

The Sitefinity CMS has been developed by Telerik, a team responsible for some great Microsoft .net products and solutions such as RadControls. The core ethos of Telerik has always been to make software development easier and more enjoyable. Sitefinity uses .net standards such as MasterPages and Controls for template management all of which makes setting up the front end of the site is straight forward.

From an SEO perspective, Sitefinity has some simple yet effective ways of optimising a site from managing the URL structure, extension-less pages and meta information management. The URL routing and infrastructure is based on the Microsoft MVC engine.

Some of the enterprise features of Sitefinity comparable to the other platforms:

  • Form builders
  • Blogs
  • Ecommerce
  • Multi lingual
  • Workflow management
  • CMS Role management

Umbraco

Umbraco is a leading open-source CMS platform that has been developed using Microsoft .NET. The open-source licensing model means that the platform is supported by an active developer community who are constantly updating and adding to the main source code. Umbraco provides a full-featured web content management system that is easy to use, simple to customise, and robust enough to run the largest sites such as wired.co.uk and asp.net.

Umbraco focuses its offering on the ability to customise and extend its core platform. This functionality is realised through its easy to use APIs, ability to use commercial .NET controls, and support for DLR compatible languages; all of this means that the Umbraco solutions created are highly scalable but may require more investment to get the initial platform up and running.

In order to reduce the overhead of development there are already a large number of components such as galleries, calendars and back-office integration that can be added and customised to an Umbraco installation.

Feature comparison

To start off I did a simple check on our old favourite CMS compare tool CMS Matrix to see how the CMS platforms stack up against each other in terms of out-of-the-box or features from a standard install. CMS Matrix is a great tool that lists all the core features that are available across CMS platforms, and segments them into handy groupings: System Requirements, Security, Support, Ease of Use, Performance, Management, Interoperability, Flexibility, Built-in Applications and Commerce (Commerce is excluded on this post as all the platforms require an add on). The features are then evaluated and given a rating of Green (Fully available), Amber (Partial Feature or Add-On Required) and Red (Feature not available at all), below is a summary table of the ratings given for each of the platforms across the 126 possible features:

Feature Level EpiServer CMS Sitecore 6 Sitefinity Umbraco
Green 96 94 94 77
Red 18 7 25 28
Amber 12 25 7 21
Overall score 108 119 101 98

As you can see from the above table, the leader in terms of out-of-the-box core features is EpiServer CMS by just 2 features, closely followed by Sitecore and Sitefinity. However, if we look at the overall ability to offer the full range of CMS features is Sitecore which makes up its difference in base features with freely available add-ons.

So, looking at the stats it seems Sitecore gives the strongest platform for a full-featured CMS and for options in the future. It’s worth pointing out though, this is all only relevant if you need all of the features.

The Branded3 process is always to identify the objectives and requirements of a project and select the right tools for the job (including if a CMS is required!), so if you don’t need all of the features then it’s not worth investing in such an intense system.

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